Last week I made this pesto, my first, for dressing the fresh pasta we were planning to make later for the Simply Italian Workshop. I didn’t realise till I opened the blog that the previous post had also featured this little-used ingredient. The pesto is very good and I’m going to go ahead and share the recipe here anyway. Get your hands on native bhangjeera, many times cheaper than the nuts of the Pinyon Pine (some species of which are now threatened). It is also a great way to use up all that wonderful basil growing in your pots right now because spring will be over soon and the basil gone all to seed. It’s handy for making a quick sauce for pasta, to use in sandwiches, and also for spearing on fresh dinner rolls.
Red, white, and green – we made three kinds of pasta (no pasta machine) for the workshop!
The hemp seeds available here are not hulled and used as such. Grinding in a mixie jar leaves small crunchy bits so I made pesto the ‘proper’ way – by grinding the seeds in a pestle. I then tranfered the ground seeds to the grinder and made a paste with basil and oil. You’ll need to pulse a little as you need to do this without adding any water.
Hemp Seed Pesto
1/4-1/2 C bhangjeera (hemp seed) (or nuts such as pine nuts, almonds, or walnuts)
a fat clove of garlic (optional)
2 t coarse salt
2 C packed basil leaves
1/2 C olive oil
1/4 C freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiana
fresh ground pepper
Roast hemp seeds in a dry pan. In a pestle and mortar grind together the roasted seeds, garlic and salt. Press down with the mortar to make a smooth paste. Transfer this to the blender jar along with the basil and a little of the olive oil, and pulse a few times. Add more oil and pulse till the leaves are chopped up. Add oil as needed to grind to a fine paste. Transfer the contents back to the pestle. Add grated cheese and mix with a spoon. Add freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning – it should be on the salty side. Transfer to a clean jar and top with more olive oil. Refrigerate for up to two weeks. You may also freeze it for extended use.